THE JAPAN International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said it launched rabies rapid test kits for use in the Philippines in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA).

JICA said in a statement Thursday that the immunochromatographic test kit (ICT kit) can return a rabies diagnosis within 20 to 30 minutes, against 2-3 hours for the microscope and incubator-based method.

The test kits were developed under a technical cooperation agreement between JICA and the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry, known as the Japan and Philippines One Health Rabies (JAPOHR) project.

JICA said the early detection of rabies accelerates the start of treatment, especially in high-risk areas.  

“The ICT kits offer an innovative way to tackle rabies prevention and diagnosis in the Philippines. At this time when public health is an important issue in development, the test kits for rabies can contribute to the eradication of one of the common diseases in the Philippines and help improve the quality of life of people,” JICA Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa said.  

The test kit was developed by Akira Nishizono of Oita University and Japanese pharmaceutical firm ADTEC.

JICA said it will support the Philippines’ rabies prevention and control program for the next two years by providing the test kits and conducting training to regional animal diagnostic laboratories.  

“According to the Department of Health (DoH), rabies remains a public health problem in the Philippines. It is the most acutely fatal infectious disease responsible for the death of 200-250 Filipinos every year, and at least one-third of human rabies deaths are among children less than 15 years of age,” JICA said.

JICA also announced the Rabies Data Share System to aid in contact tracing and vaccination following the detection of rabid animals. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave